Waiting to be found.

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All / Coexistence & Harmony

Ever wondered what to look for when looking for harmony?

There is no ubiquitous description of harmony. It doesn’t come wrapped in shape and form, yet our sense of being knows its presence.

It’s not in the trees. It’s in the way we watch their stillness and movement.
It’s not in streams. It’s in the way we listen to their murmur and silence.
It’s not in soil. It’s in the way we sniff its scent and odour.
It’s not in fruit. It’s in the way we respond to its taste and texture.
It’s not in the breeze. It’s in the way we feel its touch and absence.

Harmony has little to do with the object, and everything to do with the way in which we learn to experience it.

To remind us of what harmony looks like in our everyday world, photographer Priyadarshini Ravichandran, from Pondicherry India, used her lens and her vision. She photographed a special series on the topic for Kyobi.blog.

Harmony is not in the grand, it is in the subtle—that is the nature of the harmonious state, and that is the perspective she chose. I will be sharing a series of photo blogs to show you what she has captured. Here’s one to begin with.

Road called Harmony.

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The road goes ever on, Fellowship of the Ring

Long stitch – a good choice

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All / Coexistence & Harmony

Choices that are good on the whole are good for you. There’s never a compromise, if we only wait and watch.  

Binding – the process of bringing different pieces together to create a unified whole. This process like all processes involves choices and implications.

A book and a life are both the outcome of binding. Best therefore, to thoughtfully reflect on how we choose to bind.

For Kyo and Obi the choice was not between adhesive binding—the standard glued books and staple binding. We chose a third more traditional and natural option, that is, hand binding with recycled cotton thread.  

Glue is made from synthetic polymers, which can biodegrade given the right conditions. Who was going to make sure that the right conditions existed? Besides I would rather reduce, if possible, the plastic particles being added to water and soil.

Staples involve mining for zinc and iron ore. That immediately ruled out this option. More deforestation should no longer be considered!

While all choices come with implications, we were glad that hand binding with recycled cotton thread only meant longer time and more expense. The wait has been worth it. Kyo and Obi has been hand-bound by differently abled people, again thanks to our print and paper partner, Punarbhavaa.

Readers (Please) Digest.

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All / Between the lines

Ink blog post 7

INK – The word brings to mind the smell of fresh print on paper, or for those of us who go back further, it’s a reminder of fountain pens and ink bottles. Paper without ink would have little value. And history without ink would be an object of memory.

Ink has helped create humanity’s multiple narratives—the words that should never have been heard were scripted and retained, and the words that have preserved our humanness were transcribed and shared.

The binary reality is in ink’s application and in ink’s production. Colourant or pigment and vehicle are the two components that make ink. Today colourants are mostly inorganic pigments, chemically composed, and vehicles are synthetic, petroleum-based resins, which in 2500. B.C., when the Egyptians and the Chinese developed ink, were lampblack, tree sap, and gum.

Cuttlefish gave us one of the earliest inks, a brown-black dye, from the smokescreen created to confuse its enemies. Saffron, turmeric, and weld gave us a yellow dye. Scarlet came from an Arabian insect called Kermes, and the dye cochineal, which gave us crimson, was extracted from a beetle.

We cloaked ourselves in colours of purity, royalty, fecundity, prosperity, obtained from nature’s offspring and humanity’s benefactors.

kermes-crimson-dye

Ink and Dye from Kermes, an arabian insect.

And then…

synthetic age banners

Printing methods evolved from woodblock and movable types, and substrates other than cloth—paper, vinyl, plastic films—came into existence. The synthetic era had arrived and it has sustained.

Printers Ink, which was first introduced in 1864, is now a mix of petroleum-based chemicals and solvents.

I tried my best to find an eco alternative in India. I wanted to use ink that was free of hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds to make biodegradability an organic, natural reality. I got far, but didn’t succeed.

The book is biodegradable, because the paper is – it’s made from recycled cotton fibre. My paper and print partner (Punarbhavaa) has used ink with a soybean base, but they can’t vouch for the ink’s chemical composition. Ink manufacturers do not reveal the facts, and the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Soybean Association grant inks with a 20 percent soybean oil base the status of soy inks.

That’s fine, because I have learned that EnNatura, a startup in New Delhi India, has made biodegradable inks using non-edible vegetable oils. I am hopeful there will be a second book, printed on Punarbhavaa paper using EnNatura’s inks.

For this book, I suggest you recycle it, or send it back to us to recycle, helping us complete the process—from Paper to Print and back to Paper.

I will share our mailing address in one of the following posts.

 

Information sources:
https://sciencing.com/printer-ink-biodegradable-23020.html
http://www.realcolorwheel.com/ink.htm
https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-history-of-ink-including-its-etymology-chemistry-and-bibliography-1860/
http://www.offsetprintingtechnology.com/sub-categories/offset-printing-inks/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing
https://soygrowers.com/news-media/soy-ink-seal/
https://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoap/about-eco-innovation/good-practices/eu/766_en

Look, that’s a tree

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All / Paperless Post

So often we fail to see, and someday soon they may no longer be, so look now—that’s a tree.

Callery Pear, Manhattan

In his beautiful and informative book The Songs of Trees, David George Haskell, biologist and author, visits a dozen different trees around the world, from the Amazonian forests to the streets of New York City. He shares insights and facts that remind us of how our lives are intertwined with the lives of trees.

This excerpt from the chapter on the Callery Pear in Manhattan, set in a banal surrounding, an urban sidewalk, illustrates with simplicity and grace the influence of trees in our everyday lives.

“Trees also diversify human experience by changing the weather, in small ways on the sidewalk and at the much larger scale of the whole city. On an afternoon in late July, I rest a thermometer on the pavement under the tree: eighty degrees Fahrenheit, twenty-seven degrees Celsius. A few paces away, where no leaves cast their shade, the surface temperature is ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit, thirty-six degrees Celsius…The newsstand vendors affirm the thermometer’s testimony: in Manhattan’s summer, shade is welcome.“

“Combined, New York City’s five million trees yearly remove an estimated two thousand tons of air pollutants, in addition to more than forty thousand tons of carbon dioxide.”

Yet we forget that air conditioning only cools the air; it does not purify it.

Planting trees is redeeming—if you’re also consuming thoughtfully—but protecting and preserving trees is a biological imperative, selfsame as care for the self.

“(All) life has a contradictory, creative duality in its nature: it is atom or network; it is neither and both,” explains Haskell, “The human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory.”

Maybe stepping into a tree’s shade will remind us of how interconnected we are.

We are thankful to Punarbhavaa, our paper and print partner, located in Tamil Nadu, in South India. Punarbhavaa has made the paper for this book from waste and recycled cotton fibre, without wood pulp. They are helping us keep our commitment to Respect, Care, and Include. Their pledge
 to the environment is exceptional, and it reflects in their processes.

paperless post 5

Paper being dried naturally, in the sun.


paperless post 2

Scraps of waste cotton to be recycled.


paperless post 3

Converting cotton fibre into pulp, with Tapioca.


paperless post 4

Pressing and making paper, without wood pulp.


paperless post 6

Rows of paper sun-bathing.


paperless post 1

Punarbhavaa’s solar-powered production facility.

 

Choose a perspective

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All / Between the lines

Illiteracy.

Photo credit: Alamy.com

illiteracy

Identity.

Photo credit: fbi.gov

identity

Art.
Fingerprint on paper, Saul Steinberg. Passport Photo, 1953.

Photo credit: http://saulsteinbergfoundation.org/essay/fingerprints/

saulsteinberg

It’s a matter of perspective, and of application.

Perspective is present in every experience, event, and composition: it involves a viewer, the viewed, and the interrelation between the two. And application is the purpose assigned to a perspective.

Form and function are outcomes of application. Form is artistic and function is utilitarian. Form alters thought, and function influences behaviour.

Next time you switch off the lights instead of leaving them on, or choose to speak up when you hear derogatory phrases that objectify women, you will have applied a perspective—you will have assigned functional purpose to your words and actions, and you will have reconstructed thought. You will have done what creators and artists do.



In Kyo and Obi, we have consciously applied a perspective that favours harmony and co-existence in storytelling and book production. Expressed artistically in the style of drawing, and functionally in the choice of paper and the method of printing.

We have created the drawings in the story using the simplicity, versatility and expressive ability of line work. The charm of curved lines integrated with the dynamism of sharp lines endorses our commitment to harmony, and broad swatches of single colour reduce the use of ink, while communicating cohesiveness. The paper is made from waste cotton, the images are etched on recyclable plates, and the printing is done largely using solar power and harvested rainwater.

Our perspective has taken form. Hope yours does too.

 

I feel a feel

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All / Getting Started

If you feel the feel I feel, I feel the feel you feel.

Meet our third protagonist: the nameless, androgynous feeling. It has form and you can feel its presence in the story, in Obi—and in each of us.

i feel a feel new

Feelings constitute the mind’s response to an object, an event, or an experience. Sometimes we feel a feel that is pleasant—accomplished, excited, good, great, lucky, thrilled. Sometimes we feel a feel that is unpleasant—annoyed, bad, guilty, lonely, sad, tired. And at times, we feel an equanimous feel—we feel fine.

(where the meaning of the word fine is: subtle and therefore perceived only with difficulty and care).

When you want to tone down the extremes, merge the differences, calm the conflict, try and stand on the fine line—at the point of equanimity.

Three ways in which you can do this.

i feel a feel blog 4
—Doodles, by Molly Hahn/Mollycules


As an aside, We Feel Fine is an almanac of human emotion. Originally launched as an interactive online project that algorithmically harvested 12 million feelings, in less than four years, to show how similar people are, despite the cultural, social, and economic gaps that separate us.

Stand on the fine line.

 

Information and photo sources:
https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/contemplation-of-feelings
https://www.brainpickings.org/2009/12/03/we-feel-fine-book/
http://wefeelfine.org/book/#
https://www.buddhadoodles.com/

 

 

I see you Obi.

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All / Getting Started
mote in sunbeam

 

“A mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” said astronaut and author Carl Sagan in his reflections on the Pale Blue Dot, a photograph of Planet Earth taken at his suggestion, by Voyager 1.

We have ascribed the description to Obiour second protagonist and the mote that inspired our narrative.

—“Obi was as light as a speck of dust and he could only be seen under a sunbeam, but Obi did not know this.”

Obi is not Sagan’s pale blue dot; he lacks the personal significance.

Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us… every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on the mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. – Carl Sagan
(click to hear the original speech, in audio)

Obi is a tiny, amorphous bit of matter, ordinary and easy to ignore.

—“He (Obi) tried very hard to get other creatures to notice him. He bounced on their heads and gave them dot hugs, yet he did not get any attention.”

However, in the microscopic community, Obi occupies a vibrant place, one among a variety of dust particles—little dots that share our surroundings and represent our world.

A dust particle is an amalgamation of material from cosmic minerals, pollen, and grains of sand to our disposed skin cells. By nature, a dust particle contains nothing unique, just like you and me. And yet, it has its own composition.

To quote part of a verse by educator and author Michael Mader: Dust is a lesson in unlearning the rules of identity. Dust is, says in equal measure (that) Dust is not.

Dust is you, dust is me, dust is us in unity.
I see you Obi!

—“…The thought made Obi glow from top to bottom and side to side. The sunbeam knew then that its work was done, and it moved away. Obi could now be seen without any help.”

ink6 colour

Photo and information sources:
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/02/an-early-draft-of-carl-sagans-famous-pale-blue-dot-quote/283516/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot#Reflections
http://thepaleblue.org/about/pbd-speech/
http://www.loc.gov/item/cosmos000110
https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/what-is-dust-made-of-ted-ed
https://www.michaelmarder.org/
http://bloomsburyliterarystudies.typepad.com/continuum-literary-studie/2016/03/dust-specks.html

 

Say hello to Kyo

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All / Getting Started

blog 2

Have you heard the phrase, a barking dog never bites? We borrowed it way back from the 16th century, when it was first recorded in the English language.[i] It gives you a glimpse into an aspect of Kyo’s personality. Kyo is one of the protagonists in the story. And he is a Beagle.

The word Beagle may have come from the French word beugler, which means to bellow—a connection that we simply cannot ignore, because Kyo sure can bark. And that’s exactly what Kyo did when he first saw Obi—he barked!

—“A sunbeam stretched, all the way, through the leaves of the mango tree and caught Obi in its light. Kyo could see Obi, and he glared at him and barked.

Nice way to greet someone, isn’t it?

No bite followed the bark. There was, however, a sniff.

Is that what all the barking dogs do, they sniff? In which case, we will paraphrase and say, barking dogs never bite, they sniff.

This was instinctively what Kyo did—most likely, a biological inheritance from his 5th century Greek, scent hound ancestors. [ii] While Kyo is not out Beagling or hunting for hares, like his ancestral kin, his instinct to sniff still makes his scent receptors—over 200 million to be precise[iii]—tickle his moist little black nose.

—“He (Kyo) sniffed at Obi and started to wag his skinny long tail enthusiastically.”

Kyo had sniffed out a friend. And it wasn’t a human. It was a dot. Kyo soon became the dot’s best friend.

We will make you meet Obi, the dot, in the next post. Hope you enjoyed saying hello to Kyo.

Information sources
[i] https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/barking-dog-never-bites
[ii] Dogs of similar size and purpose to the modern beagle[a] can be traced in Ancient Greece[2] back to around the 5th century BC. Xenophon, born around 430 BC, in his Treatise on Hunting or Cynegeticus refers to a hound that hunted hares by scent and was followed on foot – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beagle#Hunting
[iii] http://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds/hound/beagle.html

And time just happened to fly by.

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All / Getting Started
the dog and the dot

In a sleepy village called Poi…

Welcome to the story about Kyo and Obi. A story about friendship, self-acceptance, and the acceptance of differences. Differences that make us distinct, like the colours of the rainbow. And yet, when they come together they form a beautiful arch that fills us with wonder and joy. Our diversity is a brilliant light show, don’t be misled by anyone who tells you otherwise.

We can’t wait to share more about coexistence, dogs, dots, and book production. There are a lot of great stories and photos out there and we are going to try to bring them to you, underpinned by insights that add a little spiritedness and a little wisdom. But first, we will tell you more about Kyo and Obi, about line art – a beautiful form of drawing, and the special process used to produce this book.

Will you read what we have to share? Hoping you will.